Iraq PM in Iran in first trip since taking office

©The Middle East Monitor

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi travelled to Tehran today where Iranian state media reported he would meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on his first foreign trip since taking office in May, Reuters reported.

Al-Kadhimi’s visit was meant to come after a trip to Saudi Arabia but that was cancelled after Saudi’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz was admitted to hospital suffering from inflammation of the gall bladder.

The Iraqi premier faces a tough balancing act between Iran and the United States who have come close to open conflict in the region, including on Iraqi soil over the past year.

At home, Al-Kadhimi is coming under increasing pressure from Iran-aligned parties and paramilitary groups who perceive him as siding with the United States because he has indicated he wants to curb the power of Iran-backed militias and political groups.

In his first two months in office security forces carried out two arrest raids against militias but most of those detained were quickly released.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Baghdad on Sunday, making a stop at the site where a US drone strike killed Iranian military mastermind Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis in January.

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